- LULU / PANDORA'S BOX
- DAPHNIS AND CHLOE
- FEDRA
- THE FUGITIVE KIND
- THE TESTAMENT OF ORPHEUS
- PHAEDRA
- HERCULES CONQUERS ATLANTIS
- YOUNG APHRODITES
- CONTEMPT
- PROMETHEUS FROM THE VISEVICE ISLAND
- SANDRA OF A THOUSAND DELIGHTS
- THE GOLDEN THING
- THE TRAVELLING PLAYERS
- EURIDICE BA 2037
- IPHIGENIA
- A DREAM OF PASSION
- CLASH OF THE TITANS
- THE YEARS OF THE BIG HEAT
- ENIOCHUS - THE CHARIOTEER
- ANTIGONE
- EDIPO ALCADE
- THAT'S LIFE
- BLADE RUNNER
- VERTIGO
- MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA
- ORPHEUS
- PANDORA AND THE FLYING DUTCHMAN
- ULYSSES
- HERACLES AND THE QUEEN OF LYDIA
- BLACK ORPHEUS
- ANTIGONE
- ELECTRA
- JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS
- ‘«Ň GORGON
- OEDIPUS REX
- ‘«Ň ILLIAC PASSION
- THE CANNIBALS
- ŐEDEA
- NOTES FOR AN AFRICAN ORESTEIA
- FOR ELECTRA
- PROMETHEUS IN THE SECOND PERSON
- VOYAGE TO CYTHERA
- ULYSSES' GAZE
- ‘«Ň MATRIX
- O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?

THE CANNIBALS
I CANNIBALI
Italy, 1969


Directed by: Liliana Cavani. Screenplay: Liliana Cavani, Italo Moscati, Fabrizio Onofri. Director of Photography: Giulio Albonico. Set Design: Giovanni Baragli. Costume Design: Ezio Frigerio. Music: Ennio Morricone. Film Editor: Nino Baragli. Cast: Britt Ekland (Antigone), Pierre Clémenti (Teiresias), Tomas Milian (Haemon), Francesco Leonetti (Haemon’s father), Delia Boccardo (Ismene), Marino Mose (Ismene’s fiancé), Sergio Setafini (Sergeant), Cora Mazzoni (Antigone’s mother), Francesco Arminio (Antigone’s father). Production: Enzo Doria, Bino Cicogna for Doria/San Marco Films. Length: 87 min. Colour.

After an unsuccessful revolution, the roads of Milan are filled with the dead bodies of rebels. Although the police have prohibited their burial, Antigone seeks for her brother’s dead body, against the advice of her sister Ismene and her fiancé Haemon, son to one of the generals in power. Antigone meets Teiresias who babbles on in an incomprehensible language. He helps her find her brother’s body and transfer it outside the city. They return to bury the rest of the dead, but are arrested by the police. Antigone remains silent throughout the aggressive interrogation. Haemon protests about her arrest to his father, but when he tries to bury another one of the dead bodies, he is also arrested. He is locked away in a private cell, and though he is offered preferential treatment, he refuses it and behaves like a caveman. In the meanwhile, Teiresias is released from prison and he looks for Antigone. When he sees her being led to her execution, he pushes his way through the crowd and dies with her.

"Enjoy the spectacle!"
"Enjoy the spectacle!" the TV presenter eagerly tells his audience as Teiresias escapes from his white-coated guards and runs amok in the studio. The words might have come from Liliana Cavani herself, for she tricks out this free-wheeling adaptation of Sophocles’ drama with all kinds of dubious visual diversions, recalling both the outrageous enigmas of late ’60s Pasolini (Theorema, Porcile) and the sex-and-sadism mix of her own Night Porter, made three years later. The setting is modern-day Milan, cowed by a thwarted revolution and ruled by a militarist government (an interpretation also used –with far greater subtlety– in Jean Anouilh’s theatre adaptation, written during the Occupation). But Cavani’s Milan quickly proves as unbelievable as her Nazi-loving Vienna: the colonel’s headquarters simply has a vicious steel gateway and a flimsy bust of Napoleon in a courtyard; Italian and English signs covering the city walls remind people that "REBELS MAKE YOU VOMIT" – hardly surprising, since the rebels in question decoratively stud the streets, dead and rotting. And amongst the corpses stalk Britt Ekland’s Antigone, here remodeled as the archetypal bourgeois rebel who stomps out of a dinner-table row, and Pierre Clémenti’s Teiresias – not a blind, revered prophet, but an unkempt figure of myth and mystery first discovered curled up on a seashore. Since Teiresias speaks Ostrogothic, a language known to no one, there can be no discussion of the ways, means and philosophy of revolution; instead the rebel two go about their business silently and tiresomely, in various stages of undress and accompanied by Morricone music. The dawdling pace repeatedly speeds up, however, for scenes of conventional fascist horror: at the Military Department they see army recruits shaved and indoctrinated ("You’re being castrated!" Antigone whispers); in the steam room at the officers’ club, they witness naked men shuffling on all fours beneath the legs of a uniformed boy. With such sensational counter-attractions at hand, Cavani lets Sophocles’ eloquent debate between the virtues of eternal and man-made laws fall by the wayside (though she predictably pounces on Creon’s rabid chauvinism, making great play with Antigone’s disfigurement through beating, and the voyeuristic proclivities of the colonels, who take turns peering through binoculars at her execution). As Cavani offers no debate of her own as substitute, one is left with a bludgeoning, fashion-conscious allegory, shakily built up without any firm intellectual groundwork.

Geoff Brown
"Film Monthly Bulletin", Vol. 42, No. 503, December 1975